Since January 4th, I’ve been on a 100 Day Challenge to go without fast-food. I know, for some of you that’s an easy task, but fast-food has always been one of my vices. I admit…I love fast-food in all its various shapes and sizes. I’m especially a sucker for a burger-and-fries from just about any fast food joint. So here are three take-a-ways from my 100 Day Challenge:
I think about food a lot: I’m amazed at how much I think about food. During the first 20-25 days of this challenge, it became clear that food was on my mind a lot. I’d leave work at 11 and be thinking about where to stop for a quick bite. I realized that I set up a lot of appointments for lunch time so that I could grab the food I was thinking about. I also realized how often I used a small hunger pain as an excuse to grab some grub-to-go on my way home, taking the kids across town or just because.
I love conveniences: One of the reasons I like fast-food so much is that it’s highly nutritious (just seeing if you’re reading). No, it’s actually because of how convenient it is. I like the fact that I can order a meal and have it entering my mouth within 60 seconds. Seriously…60 seconds from when I say, “A number one with Coke” to when the first few fries are finding their way into my stomach. Sometimes I know I’ll feel like garbage an hour after I eat the meal, but the convenience of getting the food surpasses the possible side effects.
I have a lot of influence on what my kids like: My kids love fast-food, too -- especially the youngest two. There is a direct correlation between their love of all things McDonalds and the number of times it was convenient for me to take them there. That “Number one with Coke” has been a staple in my diet since the first time I bought one with my own hard-earned money at the age of 16. I’ve influenced my kids’ love and appreciation for fast-food by facilitating their access to it. I’m not inherently opposed to fast-food, just recognizing how easily I was able to influence my own children in this area.
So now that my 100 Day Challenge is over, what’s next?
I’m not really sure.
I was hoping today’s blog post was going to be some sort of super-clever, mega-inspirational post about dramatic life-change and massive over-use of hyphens. Well, at least my hyphen over-use goal has been achieved.
While I’m still trying to figure out what this 100 Day challenge will mean for my long range health goals, I have at least one conclusion to the matter: I need to make sure I’m influencing my kids so that they too, will seek to live a God-pleasing Overboard Life. If I can have a significant impact on their food choices, I want to have a significant impact on their spiritual journey. I can’t make them choose a life of obedience (that trick has never worked!), but my little experiment through fast-food withdrawal has taught me what I can do:
I can set a good example. If I want my kids to make healthier food choices, I need to set a better example in the foods I eat. Thankfully, my wife does a great job of providing healthy food choices and meals for our families. In fact, her influence in changing our family’s diet is proof that setting a good example is at least half the battle.
If I can influence their food choices, how much more should I want to influence their commitment and devotion to God? Deuteronomy 6:7 spells it out so well:
“And tell them [God’s commands] to your children over and over again. Talk about them all the time, whether you’re at home or walking along the road or going to bed at night, or getting up in the morning.”
And Jesus summarized all of the Bible’s commands in two categories: Love God and love others. The greatest influence I can offer my kids is that of teaching them to love God with everything, and to show that love by loving others.
I can create opportunity for them to experience success. Just like I want to give my kids a love for healthy food by providing good choices (allowing them to experience success in their health), I can create experiences for them to have success in loving God and loving others. Over the years, Traci and I have intentionally provided experiences for them that allow them to exercise a love for God by loving others. We’ve given them chances to serve the homeless, travel on mission trips together, bless the elderly, serve tables and clean up litter.
In each opportunity we’ve tried hard to give our kids ownership, let them express their service through their own gifts and talents and, at times, let them experience some amount of frustration and failure in their service. By walking with them and creating opportunities to experience success in their walks with God, I’m doing what I can to influence them for a life of loving God and loving others.
I can navigate the tough times with an enduring grace and faith. God has never made promises that living Overboard would be easy. Instead, He’s pretty well implied that a life of faith is full of challenges, obstacles and a fair share of suffering. In fact, it’s the reason a lot of people quit following Jesus -- He wasn’t promising them roses and popularity, He was promising them thorns and abandonment.
When those tough times come, I can influence my children’s faith by resolving to stay close God even as I wonder what His plan entails. Faith is messy. Faith can really complicate life at times. Faith demands that we trust God in all of life’s circumstances, and as I walk through the potential messes, complications and circumstances in trust -- I show my kids that the best life they could have is in God’s care.
I’m still trying to sort out how this past 100 days will influence my eating. Stay tuned for that update. In the mean time, I’ve seen how much my food choices have impacted my kids, and now I want to make sure I’m influencing them in eternal matters, too.
Go ahead and take the plunge, life is always better on the water!